University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota: Department of Mechanical Engineering

In memoriam: Virgil Marple
(August 16, 1939 - December 24, 2017)

Professor Emeritus
He described his tenure of directing the ME Co-op Program as "...the best job I ever had".

Virgil Alan Marple, age 78, of Independence, MN, entered heaven on December 24, 2017, to celebrate Christmas with His Lord Jesus Christ. He was born on August 16, 1939, to Laurence and Opal (Lacey) Marple, on the family farm in Wendell, MN.

Virgil attended country school and elementary school in Wendell, MN, and graduated from high school at Elbow Lake, MN in 1957. Virgil attended the University of Minnesota graduating with distinction in 1962 with a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. In 1965 he received his Master's Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Southern California. In 1970 Virgil received his Ph.D degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Minnesota.

From 1962 -1965 he worked in the aerospace industry at Aeronutronic, a division of Ford Motor Company in Newport Beach, CA. From 1965-1967 Virgil was employed at Fluidyne Engineering in Golden Valley, MN.

Virgil was a Mechanical Engineering professor at the University of Minnesota for 41 years, the director of the Engineering Co-op Program for 25 years, and a founding faculty advisor for the Solar Vehicle Project. Virgil focused his research in the field of particle technology and aerosol science, for which he received numerous awards. As an extension of this research Virgil became co-owner of MSP Corp, and owner of Elpram Systems, Inc. and Compotech Systems, Inc. His many patents for impactors and associated devices are still widely in use in the semi-conductor, mining, and pharmaceutical industries. 

On June 15, 1962, Virgil and Theresa Koep were united in marriage in Elbow Lake, MN.

Virgil’s faith and family were an integral part of his life, and nothing could light up his face more brightly than hearing the laughter and chatter of his five granddaughters. His quiet faith was manifested in his generous heart. He had much compassion and concern for the poor where he, Theresa and Wendy visited Flores de Ville, a community built of cardboard homes on a garbage dump in Lima, Peru. He saw his compassionate nature come to light in his ability to make many Peruvians live a better lifestyle with their homes, better education, and better health care. In doing so he created lifelong friendships with these dear people.

Virgil lived on his Independence, MN farm for 40 years where he continued his love of farming, provided a home to innumerable rescue kitties, and pursued his passion for antique and rare vehicles—especially Studebakers. 

He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Theresa (Koep), 3 daughters, Jill Rivard (Curt), Holly Gnitka (Steve), Wendy Marple, and 5 granddaughters, Catherine Rivard (fiancé Daniel Graul), Hannah Rivard, Sarah Nicholas (Brandon), Leah Gnitka, Elisabeth Gnitka, and trusted colleague and friend, Trever Nye. Brother, Stanley Marple (Bea), sister-in-law, Alice Marple, brother-in-law, Wesley Koep, sister-in-law, Shirley Koep.

Virgil was preceded in death by his parents, Laurence and Opal Marple, brother, LeRoy Marple, sister and brother-in-law, Lucille and Ken Sundet, sister-in-law, Ruth Marple, sister-in-law, Ruby Koep.

A memorial service was held on December 28, 2017 at Buffalo Covenant Church in Buffalo, MN. Burial service was held at Lawrence Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Wendell, MN.

In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to Peruvian Partners, PO Box 735, Delano, MN 55328;